Predictions and picks for the 2016 Oscars

The time is now to look for value bets for the 2016 Oscars and Hartley looks ahead to the 2016 Academy Awards with predictions and picks, including winners for several of the big categories.

Now that all the significant award shows are finished it's time to look for value bets for the 2016 Oscar race before the odds plummet. Oscars odds will change frequently until the show but history dictates that around 2 weeks before the telecast is the time to find the best odds for the Academy Awards. Looking ahead to the Oscars I have some predictions and picks, including winners for several of the big categories.

Best Picture:
Usually this category represents the lowest value at the Oscars but this year is different. Prior to the Golden Globes, Spotlight, the film that focuses on the media's spotlight on sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, was the overwhelming favorite. But at the Golden Globes Spotlight lost to The Revenant, a film described as an adventure western which looks at fur trappers in Montana and South Dakota and their deadly dealings with native Indians, and consequently the odds on Spotlight plummeted, although it remained the betting favorite. That changed again when the Producer's Guild Award went to The Big Short, a film about the 2007-2008 financial crash and Spotlight was no longer the favorite. Industry analysts were quick to point out that the Producer's Guild Award winner went on to win every Oscar for Best Picture since 2006 and only missed 7 times since its inception in 1989.As a result The Big Short which was trading at odds as high as 10/1 plummeted to become the even money favorite. Spotlight moved up to odds around 7/5 and The Revenant skyrocketed to 4/1 odds from the 8/5 odds it was offered at following the Golden Globe win.

The next award ceremony was the SAG Awards, which is comprised of actors and makes up the largest contingent of Academy Awards voters, and for best cast ensemble (their equivalent to Best Picture) the award went to Spotlight. The odds reversed again after that win and Spotlight became the slight favorite. Then the DGA Awards came out and best director went to Alejandro G Innaritu, and the odds on all 3 films tightened up. While the DGA Awards only looks at the director it has also been a good precursor to predicting the Best Picture winner. Spotlight was the slight 7/5 favorite, the Big Short was trading about 8/5 and The Revenant was 9/5 making it a toss-up and by far the closest odds in recent memory. The last award show was the BAFTA awards who handed the award to The Revenant. It doesn't appear that win changed any of the Oscars odds.

So who will win this? My guess is that it won't be The Big Short. The film was always a longshot and only gained any interest because of the PGA Award win. But the snub of that film at every other awards show tells me that for the first time in a decade the PGA will be wrong. It's also notable that the SAG voters account for far more Academy Award voting members than the PGA does. That leaves it to either Spotlight or The Revenant. While the SAG voters chose Spotlight it's important to realize that The Revenant wasn't on the list of nominees. Again industry analysts suggest that this hurts The Revenant's chances since no film that wasn't on the SAG award nominee list for best cast won an Oscar since 1995, when Braveheart won, but the similarities between Braveheart and The Revenant are mind blowing. Both films were historical adventure dramas focusing on native warriors, both films missed out on the PGA Award, neither film was nominated for a SAG Award, both films featured one main acting character which is likely why it wasn't nominated for best cast ensemble, both films finished around the same position for box office gross and both films were nominated for virtually the same categories like Best Director, Best Cinematography, best Costume Design and Best Film Editing. As a result, the fact that the SAG voters chose not to choose The Big Short was more notable than the fact they voted for Spotlight. I have no doubt that if The Revenant was on the SAG Awards list it would have won.

Given the closeness of the race, given the odds and given the similarities from this year to last when Innaritu won every directing award last year proceeding to easily win Best Picture for Birdman, despite Boyhood being the early favorite, look for the Revenant to win the Oscar for Best Picture. I'd also be surprised if the Revenant isn't the odds on betting favorite on Oscar day.

2016 Oscars predicitionsBest Supporting Actor:
Mark Rylance was favored to win this award for Bridge of Spies but that changed when Sylvester Stallone won The Golden Globe for his role as Rocky Balboa in Creed. It's believed that Stallone's win was more as a lifetime achievement for his role as Rocky where he always overlooked. And this could be a last chance to win a major award. Stallone wasn't nominated for the SAG but Rylance didn't win either, with the award going to Idris Elba for his role in Beasts of No Nation. Rylance finally won at the BAFTA Awards, but again Stallone wasn't nominated. Rylance's snub at the SAGs and the fact that Elba was always a longshot seems to set this up for Stallone. He's loved in Hollywood, made a great speech at The Golden Globes and his odds never rose after the SAG Awards. There's no question that Stallone will never be equated to Jack Nicholson or Leonardo di Caprio for acting ability but look for the Academy to award Stallone as a type of lifetime achievement on Oscar day. His odds of 2/5 are small but I'd be shocked if he doesn't win.

Best Director:
As I said I generally try to avoid big favorites but sometimes the odds are not low enough to avoid it. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has won everything. He won the Golden Globe, he won the DGA Award, he won the BAFTA and he will win the Oscar. The last 12 winners of the DGA Award won the Oscar (excluding Ben Affleck who would have won but wasn't nominated) and other than 2000 and 2002 as well as 1995 when Ron Howard won the DGA but wasn't nominated for the Oscar the DGA Award winner won every Academy Award since the Godfather in the early 1970s. This award is a foregone conclusion especially since Innaritu is loved in Hollywood. At odds of 2/7 he is an absolute lock to repeat his win from last year.

Best Supporting Actress:
This is an interesting category. Rooney Mara was the favorite for her role in Carol from the beginning. She was actually nominated for Best Actress at the Golden Globes, so couldn't win Best Supporting Actress, but she's lost every award since, including the SAG and the BAFTA. Kate Winslet won the award for her role in Steve Jobs for both the Golden Globes and the BAFTA, while Alicia Vikander won the SAG for her role in The Danish Girl. Vikander was actually nominated for Best Actress at the BAFTA Awards but had no chance against Brie Larson who is a lock to win the award at the Oscars. Nevertheless, Vikander is the 2/5 favorite while Mara is 3/1 and Winslet is 5/1. I'm going to take a shot at the big odds and predict an upset win for Winslet. This is Winslet's first nomination since 2009, when the Academy awarded her the Oscar for The Reader. Prior to that she was nominated and lost 5 times. In a popularity contest Winslet will win over either Mara or Vikander and while most of her colleagues from the SAG will probably vote for Vikander again, I expect the other voters to choose the more glamorous Winslet. At the odds she represents great value. One thing for certain is she won't be 5/1 on Oscar day.

Best Costume Design:
Cinderella is the 3/2 favorite to win this but these "B" movies never win the Oscar. The Academy will look to award Mad Max: Fury Road for its success and this is one category where they can do so. The costumes for the film were excellent, it's more of a mainstream movie and at 5/2 odds represents great value.

Best Documentary Short:
Usually the short films are the hardest to predict but this year it's really between two films Body Team 12, a film about workers in Liberia who gathered the bodies of Ebola casualties and Claude Langmann: Spectres of the Shoah, a film about a man who went out and interviewed holocaust survivors to show what they are up to now so that they are seen as successful individuals rather than as victims. While the latter film is good I expect the Academy to give it to Body Team 12. Not only is Ebola a more current and highly political topic but 2 executive producers of the film were Olivia Wilde, a highly regarded actress and Paul Allen who was one of the co-founders of Microsoft. The film has also been getting a lot of play recently on the talk shows. At odds of 10/13 Body Team 12 may represent the best value of all for the Oscars. I'd be surprised if it's more than 1/2 on Oscar day.

I'll have an updated list of every category including updated odds before the Oscar telecast.

Read insights from Hartley Henderson every week here at OSGA and check out Hartley's RUMOR MILL!

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